Game 15: No. 9 Kansas at Oklahoma – Preview and Prediction

The No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks, suddenly on a losing streak, head to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday. The Jayhawks took down OU back on January 9th in tightly contested affair, but they haven’t won a game since, having lost the last two contests. Oklahoma has rebounded nicely from that loss by winning their last two games by a combined 62 points. Kansas needs this one if they want to keep any hopes of a Big 12 title alive.

  • Saturday, January 23rd, 2021, 11:00 AM CDT
  • Lloyd Noble Center – Norman, Okla.
  • ESPN
  • No. 9/9 Kansas (10-4, 4-3) plays at Oklahoma (8-4, 4-3) on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 11 a.m. on ESPN. 
  • Kansas leads the Big 12 in rebound margin at +7.1 and ranks in the upper half of 11 conference statistical categories.
  • Kansas enters the Oklahoma contest No. 6 in NET strength of schedule. The Jayhawks have led NCAA Division I in NET SOS each of the last two seasons and five times under head coach Bill Self (2005, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020)
  • Junior Ochai Agbaji leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made per game at 2.8 and is second in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.8%. Agbaji has made 26 threes in his last eight games.
  •  Junior David McCormack is averaging 16.8 points and 2.3 blocked shots per game in his last four games. He has two 20-point efforts in his last four games with 20 at TCU (1/5) and 24, with 12 rebounds, at OSU (1/12). 
  • Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 229 Associated Press polls dating back to 2008-09. The 229-consecutive weeks in the AP poll is an all-time record, surpassing UCLA’s 221 from 1966-80. KU holds the same streak in the coaches’ poll at 236.
  • With the consecutive weeks being ranked at 229, the Kansas at Oklahoma contest will be the 417th-straight game KU will play as a ranked team, a streak which started Feb. 2, 2009.

Sooners to Watch

Austin Reaves- 6’5″ senior point guard
In a rare case of a player that leads his team in points, rebounds, and assists, Reaves is the jack of all tirades for Oklahoma at the point guard position. He averages 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists, and his ability to explode for huge games (32 points and nine assists vs. TCU in the conference opener) is documented. He is excellent at getting to the basket, but three-point shooting is his weakness, as he’s shooting just 25% on four attempts per game this year.

Brady Manek – 6’9″ senior forward
Manek has terrorized Kansas in past years with consistent and accurate three-point shooting, but he hasn’t turned into the all-conference player many anticipated he would as a senior. His volume is down overall, though his 13 points per game and 41% three-point rate are still second on the team. He also played just 11 minutes against K-State on Tuesday after missing two weeks worth of games due to covid. Still, he’s an excellent all-around player that figures to take on a bigger role than usual against Kansas this weekend.

Jayhawk Pick to Click

Ochai Agbaji – 6’5”, Junior, guard

Kansas is in much need of a win on Saturday when they take on the Sooners, and they’ll need their most consistent player this season to lead the way. KU’s leading scorer has been in double figures in all but one game this season (he had that odd 0 pt output against Creighton last month). In KU’s initial contest with OU, Agbaji went for 14 points with six boards. 

Prediction

Everything is telling me to go with the Sooners. They come in winners of two straight and are playing pretty good basketball, while the Jayhawks have have lost two straight and have played uninspiring basketball since 2021 started. Oklahoma doesn’t turn it over much, and they’re usually very reliable at the free throw line. In a game that will likely be close, those are two pluses for those backing the Sooners.

With all that said, I’ll go with the Jayhawks. Kansas doesn’t lose three-straight often (only done it twice under Self), and I believe that sooner or later they’re going to find their groove again. They did show a better effort against Baylor on Monday night, but ultimately fell short. In that game though, Kansas shot the ball considerably better from three, as they went 10-for-19, which is much better from where they were in the previous two games. (Although, as our fearless leader Ryan Landreth points out on Twitter…he’d like to see those 19 attempts be more like 30 or 35).

(Editor’s Note: Yes. That is correct.)

David McCormack came up big in the first meeting with OU. He scored 17 points, including the game-sealing basket, but he was pretty much a no-show against Baylor. Look for him to have a bounce back game, as well as Jalen Wilson who has been ICE cold — just 17 total points over his last three games. I also think that KU is due for some positive regression when it comes to their opponents hitting threes, as the last five KU opponents have combined to shoot 42% from deep. That feels due for regression, and this feels like a good spot to predict it will start. I say the Jayhawks get the shooting they need to pull out of their funk and put a stop to this January slide.

Kansas 79, Oklahoma 72

Kansas +1

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 11-3 (9-5 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.